Japan's 2-D Lovers: Falling In Love with a Body Pillow

Lisa Katayama of TokyoMango has a story in this week's NYT Magazine about otaku in Japan who are in love with anime pillowcases. Yes, they are "dating" body pillows with cartoon prepubescent girls on them. What's going on in Japan?

It's both a sad and a disturbing trend, this "2-D love" thing. It seems like a natural step from the hikikomori phenomenon, where thousands of boys afraid of the outside world shut themselves in their bedrooms for years on end.

What's driving Japanese men to these extremes of isolation and anti-social behavior? Lisa quotes stats that say that a full quarter of people in the country between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins, while half of them have no friends of the opposite sex.

It's clearly not the only place with lonely people with social disorders, but there's something in the way their society operates that is pushing these awkward, introverted boys and men to unhealthy places. [NYT Magazine]